From the moment my husband Ryan and I began trying to conceive, I felt like a dark cloud was constantly hanging over me. At 29 years old, I went through multiple rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI) in hopes of getting pregnant, but unfortunately, they were all unsuccessful. It was a lot to handle and left me feeling overwhelmed. Eventually, I switched to in vitro fertilization (IVF) and thankfully became pregnant with my first child. I couldn’t have been more grateful.
Our pregnancy progressed smoothly until I unexpectedly went into labor three weeks early and experienced a retained placenta. This complication led to a postpartum hemorrhage and an emergency dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure to remove the placenta surgically from my uterine wall. The whole experience was physically and mentally traumatic. However, I recovered and was able to embrace my life as a new mom.
Sixteen months later, we decided to pursue IVF again for our second child, and that dark cloud returned. Trying to conceive proved to be even more challenging this time around, and I went through four years of unsuccessful attempts with IVF. During that last year, I experienced four devastating miscarriages in a row. The final loss hit me the hardest, as I felt like a complete failure to both myself and Ryan. It was a heartbreaking experience.
My doctor tried various medications to help but nothing seemed to work. I had a gut feeling that something was seriously wrong, but we couldn’t pinpoint the issue. Several weeks after my fourth loss, we met with my endocrinologist to regroup and discuss our next steps. He told us that in his 30 years of practice, he had never seen a case like mine and recommended seeing a specialist.
Those two words, “specialist,” would change everything for us. It took a few months to secure an appointment, but I felt reassured after speaking with the specialist that we could find answers. We went over my medical history, including the emergency D&C I had after delivering my daughter and the four miscarriages and subsequent D&C procedures I underwent in the past year.
The specialist mentioned a condition called Asherman’s syndrome based on my history. Asherman’s syndrome can occur when there has been a history of D&C and incomplete or recurrent miscarriages, among other causes. In my case, both scenarios contributed to my diagnosis.
Asherman’s syndrome involves the formation of scar tissue in the uterus, which can hinder proper embryo implantation and lead to pregnancy loss. The specialist scheduled a hysteroscopy, an outpatient procedure performed in the hospital, to verify if I had Asherman’s syndrome and to remove any scar tissue present.
During my follow-up appointment, the specialist used a surgical tool with a camera to examine my uterine lining. He identified a significant amount of scar tissue, particularly concentrated at the top of the uterus known as the fundus. This was likely the site where the embryos attempted but failed to implant. After removing some of the scar tissue, the specialist confirmed my diagnosis of Asherman’s syndrome and its likely role in my recurrent miscarriages. I couldn’t help but ask why it took so long to figure this out.
The specialist explained that Asherman’s syndrome is often diagnosed late or not at all because many tests cannot provide a clear view. I was surprised by the diagnosis, considering all the imaging and testing I had throughout my treatment never indicated any issues. However, I felt relieved knowing there was a recognized cause.
The specialist informed me that I needed to undergo the treatment three more times, with each treatment scheduled two weeks apart. In between appointments, I had to take estrogen to promote healing of the uterine lining and prevent scar tissue from regrowing at the removal site.
The next six weeks felt never-ending as I anxiously waited to see if the treatment was successful and if I could try to conceive again. Finally, the last appointment arrived, and after the fourth procedure, the specialist looked at me kindly and said, “The scar tissue didn’t come back. I don’t see anything there. We fixed it. I hope you can go have your baby now.”
I walked into the waiting room, hugged my husband, and felt like the dark cloud had finally lifted. The following week, we met with my endocrinologist to discuss our plan for our last remaining embryo. He needed to consult his board to determine if it was safe to proceed with another transfer cycle. Once approval was granted, he informed us that if this transfer failed, we would need to explore surrogacy.
While I was open to any possibility that could help me become a mother again and give my daughter a sibling, a part of me hoped we could succeed this time on our own. We moved forward with the transfer protocol and anxiously awaited the results. To my surprise, my hCG hormone levels doubled and kept increasing. I remained cautiously optimistic due to my previous losses, but it seemed I was finally going to bring my baby to full term. And we did. Our second child, my son Noah, who was embryo number seven, was born healthy and happy.
Thanks to my treatment for Asherman’s syndrome, I was able to have my miracle baby. However, it took nearly a year and a half to receive a diagnosis, and I know I’m not alone in this struggle. That’s why it has become my mission to help other women facing recurrent pregnancy loss by raising awareness about Asherman’s syndrome and encouraging them to discuss it with their doctors. If you’ve experienced recurrent pregnancy loss for 12 months (if you’re under 35) or six months (if you’re over 35), or have difficulty getting pregnant, it’s crucial to consider the possibility of Asherman’s syndrome and consult a specialist. Be your own advocate for your health. If you’re going through recurrent losses, here are some questions to ask your primary doctor or endocrinologist:
1. Based on my recurrent losses, do you think it’s necessary for me to see a specialist?
2. Are you concerned that Asherman’s syndrome could be causing my struggles?
3. Can you recommend a specialist who specializes in Asherman’s syndrome in my area?
I had no idea there was an underlying cause for my repeated losses or that it could be treated, ultimately allowing me to welcome my son into the world. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to have children, as I know many women aren’t as fortunate. It’s agonizing to witness friends dealing with infertility and recurrent losses, and it makes me wonder how many others aren’t aware of Asherman’s syndrome and the potential help available. By sharing my story, my hope is to make a positive impact in someone else’s life and provide a potential solution to end their suffering.
Lisa McCarty is a writer and advocate for women’s health, specifically infertility, mental health, and maternal health. She also runs a strategic PR consulting firm that focuses on helping female entrepreneurs in the health, wellness, and fashion industries share their stories.
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